Eating disorders are a deep-rooted mental illness that can lead to extremely dangerous behavior. Alone they can cause significant damage to the body, but they may also be connected to other serious problems like substance abuse. At our Palm Beach treatment center, we offer support for eating disorders and substance abuse treatment to help people combat both problems together and work toward better futures.
Eating Disorders & Substance Abuse Comorbidity
While diet and weight become the focus of eating disorders, they aren’t driving the decisions to engage in unhealthy eating habits. There are other psychological, interpersonal, and social factors that underlie these choices. From low self-esteem to traumatic childhood experiences, an eating disorder can be an unhealthy expression of a person trying to gain some control when they feel helpless.
Likewise, these circumstances can lead people to rely on drugs or alcohol to self-medicate or numb their thoughts, which is why some people suffer from eating disorders and chemical dependency at the same time. In fact, the rate of substance abuse among people with eating disorders is five times higher than the general population at around 50%.1
Anorexia & Substance Abuse
Anorexia nervosa also known as just anorexia is a type of eating disorder characterized by an intense fear of gaining weight that leads to self-destructive behaviors. Anorexia is often tied to poor mental health and leads to severe health problems like bone loss, heart problems, gastrointestinal issues, and kidney problems.
Signs of anorexia include:
- Excessive exercising
- Severely limiting food intake
- Vomiting after eating
- Laxative use
- Extreme weight loss
- Dizziness or fainting
- Lying about food consumed
Bulimia & Substance Abuse
Bulimia nervosa or just bulimia is an eating disorder that involves a pattern of bingeing on food followed by measures to prevent weight gain that helps people feel more in control. Bulimia can lead to dental issues, heart problems, digestive issues, and kidney failure.
Sign of bulimia include:
- Pattern of binging and purging food
- Excessive and uncontrollable episodes of eating
- Frequent vomiting after eating
- Laxative use
- Excessive exercise habits
Binge Eating Disorder & Substance Abuse
Binge eating disorder, or BED, is a problem where people overeat and are unable to control their eating. It is usually a way to cope with trauma, depression, or other mental health problems. Alone, the physical risks of BED may include high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, sleep apnea, and more.
A compulsive disorder, BED can be difficult to detect because sufferers will frequently go to great lengths to hide their behavior.
Symptoms of BED include:
- Sporadic, frequent and uncontrolled episodes of binge eating
- Secretive behavior regarding overeating
- Feelings of shame, depression, guilt and remorse following binge eating
- An inability to control one’s eating before and during episodes
Substance abuse and BED disorder treatment are usually both necessary to help the individual overcome their problems with overeating and drug abuse.
Support for Eating Disorders & Substance Abuse Treatment
Individuals who struggle with co-occurring disorders like substance abuse and eating disorders often feel like there is nowhere for them to turn. Like other dual diagnosis disorders, these problems must be treated simultaneously to ensure the best chance for a successful and lasting recovery.
As a dual diagnosis treatment center in Florida, we offer support for eating disorders and substance abuse treatment together, and our facility has a proven track record of successful treatment for these problems. To begin, upon admission to our treatment center, each patient will undergo a full clinical and mental health assessment. At this point, our trained staff members will develop a unique treatment plan for each individual designed to help them identify and work through the problems and underlying causes that connect both disorders. The goal is to enable patients to manage the symptoms of both disorders as well as work at resolving their core issues to stop them from moving back and forth between their substance abuse and an eating disorder.
Patients will begin with a medical detox to focus on their physical dependence on drugs and alcohol before transitioning into programs that emphasize healing in other aspects of these disorders. Because these problems both have mental health ties, our eating disorders and substance abuse treatment program includes regular programming and therapies so patients can examine the origins of their problems. These programs focus on trauma resolution, grief work, and self-esteem repair while providing round-the-clock staffing to support people in creating and maintaining a healthier relationship to eating. Our staff will also educate patients on how to identify the stressful situations that spark the desire to use food as an escape or turn to drug or alcohol to cope.
This work, in conjunction with a sober and responsible commitment to recovery from their substance abuse, can empower people to move forward in their lives with confidence and hope. When patients learn what is influencing them to binge, purge, or avoid food, as well as what’s triggering their need to take drugs or alcohol, they can use that self-awareness to embark on a successful and lasting recovery. Get started with our support for eating disorders and substance abuse treatment at Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches today.